How Tech Accommodates Transgender Students

Kai Arrowood, Junior Executive Editor

2W32 is no regular restroom. A small single-stalled bathroom provides a safe space for transgender and gender non-conforming students. In 2018, the Department of Education mandated that every school have a single-stalled restroom for student use, creating a gender-neutral bathroom for the sole purpose of providing a genderless space for students. However, recent issues with the restroom have raised concerns that there are not enough gender-neutral bathrooms in Tech. 

This lone gender-neutral bathroom is similar to other restrooms in our school, run-down and foul-smelling. It is often locked, unclean, or used for inappropriate reasons. Guidance Counselor Ramona Richardson commented that there have been reports of used condoms being discovered in the restrooms.

Reports of vandalism and misuse of gender-neutral bathrooms stretch beyond Tech. Rachel Tappe, a freshman at Bard Manhattan, reported, “I know there is a big issue because people were repeatedly destroying and vandalizing the bathrooms in a way that made them unusable so they did have to close down the gender-neutral bathrooms. I know the GSA held meetings and I believe they talked with the student union. I don’t know if they also talked with the school administration but I believe this is the case as the GSA often meets with administration.” 

As there is only one of these bathrooms at Tech, many students report frustration when trying to change for gym class. Many gym classes are too far from the second floor to consider changing in the bathroom before class. The Survey sat down with Folx group, a support group for transgender and gender non-conforming students, to discuss these issues. The interviewees chose to remain anonymous for the sake of their personal safety and privacy. 

“I wish there were more [gender-neutral bathrooms] too. Like, I don’t want to go down 5 floors to use the bathroom. And honestly, the location where the neutral bathroom is is kind of annoying, like it’s right next to the girls’ room,” one student said.  

For another student, a gender-neutral bathroom is essential. “The gender-neutral bathroom just makes me feel more comfortable. When I go into the girl’s bathroom or locker room, I feel like I’m a predator or out of place.”

As the number of transgender and gender non-conforming students in U.S. high schools has increased, it is becoming clear that there are not enough resources available to these students.  Compared to other schools, Tech has an adequate amount of resources available to these students, but many students believe there is a need for further change. For example, LaGuardia High School has multiple gender-neutral bathrooms. 

One student said, “The gender-neutral bathroom is pretty cool but I wish there was one of those metal boxes for period products within the stall.” 

“I know we have multiple stalled gender-neutral bathrooms and single-stalled gender-neutral bathrooms. I believe we have five. We also have menstrual products in our restrooms,” Tappe said.  

It is evident that other schools have resources that Tech does not. For reference, Bard Manhattan has around 600 students, so they are around a tenth of the size of Tech. 

“Gender-neutral bathrooms are important because it’s a place where students who don’t feel comfortable entering a place for ‘only girls’ or ‘only guys’ can go to change clothes or just use the bathroom,” one student said. Students in the Folx Group would also appreciate more support and understanding from Tech teachers.  Another student said, “Teachers, for the most part, are accepting of transgender students, personally there haven’t been any specific times where the teacher was unaccepting, but a lot of the time it’s teachers’ inactivity in situations that negatively impacts the situation.”

The issue of gender-neutral bathrooms surpasses just having a safe environment. It shows transgender students at Tech that they are heard, understood, and respected. In our discussion with the Folx Group, there were murmurs of asking for a new restroom, or potentially a gender-neutral locker room in the near future.